Mayor of Wirral Cllr Mitchell “I’m like a good quality pair of curtains, I like to pull myself together very quickly”

Mayor of Wirral Cllr Mitchell “I’m like a good quality pair of curtains, I like to pull myself together very quickly”

Mayor of Wirral Cllr Mitchell “I’m like a good quality pair of curtains, I like to pull myself together very quickly”


Left to right newly elected Mayor of Wirral Councillor Steve Foulkes, former Mayor of Wirral Councillor Dave Mitchell
Left to right newly elected Mayor of Wirral Councillor Steve Foulkes, former Mayor of Wirral Councillor Dave Mitchell

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There were plenty of interesting things said at the Annual Meeting of Wirral Council held at the Floral Pavilion. The Wirral Globe article and Liverpool Echo both concentrate on the voting by councillors on Councillor Steve Foulkes’ nomination for Mayor by the Cabinet.

Below is a transcript starting at the start of the meeting.

High Sheriff, ladies and gentlemen, will you please be upstanding for the Mayor of Wirral Councillor Dave Mitchell?

Please be seated, thank you.

As part of the agenda for tonight’s meeting, are there any declarations of interest?

Are there any apologies for absence?

Yes, Mr Mayor. Two apologies for absence, Councillor ??? and Councillor ??? ???.

Thank you for that. The first business is the election of the Mayor. I’ve preempted myself, I’m awfully sorry. This is, it’s a year and a little bit since I’ve started my Mayoralty and we’ve changed the constitution, literally thinking thirty years being a councillor I’ll be able to do this, it’s going to be easy but well the Council has decided to change the way we organise and do things. So, I’ll move on. Move on again. It is. Thank you.

I will now ask the assembled Members and visitors to join me in standing and holding a minutes silence in memory of late Alderman Councillor Kate Wood. I’d like everybody to stand.

Thank you very much indeed, please be seated. New business (laughs) I got one bit right anyway. Yes, good evening ladies and gentlemen, elected Members, new Members. We’ll be doing that part in the Council in the second part which is next week.

In my final address as the Mayor, I would like to say good evening to everyone of course and then start off by saying I’m like a good quality pair of curtains, I like to pull myself together very quickly. You will notice, those Members that were here and those visitors that were here last year I became very emotional in my acceptance speech as Mayor. I lost the plot a few times during that evening and I’ve continued on the same vein this evening.

Hopefully from now on it’ll all be downhill but what I would like to say is it’s been an absolute honour to represent the Wirral for this last year. Sue and I (the Mayoress) have really, really fully enjoyed every aspect of it and so much so that we’ve actually attended approximately over five hundred and forty-one engagements as Mayor and Mayoress and we were delighted to see the varied aspects that we have on the Wirral.

It was amazing to see so many wonderful people doing so many wonderful things and that is people working in the communities, charities and we were really heartened by the wealth and support given by so many people to our communities and charities. The skills and the nature of such diversity acquired in all aspects of life, they really came to the fore. I am really proud, Sue and I, we’ve said this for a few times throughout the year about how proud we are to be the [Mayor and] Mayoress of Wirral. The people that we meet on the peninsula are just absolutely fantastic.

We should and I’m sure you will agree with us be proud of the amazing talents that we have here on the Wirral. These include all sorts of things including sports, art, acting, music and can we also thank the parents and guardians of lots of our young people and students in the Wirral? Sue and I had the great opportunity to invite many young groups of people into the Council to give them an insight what we actually do and what we are and I was delighted to bring some of the young people into the Town Hall and see what we’re all about. A big thank you to parents and guardians and helpers in bringing those children into the Town Hall.

I’d also like to thank the support we’ve received from so many members of the council staff and elected Members in our year. They really have shown their loyalty to the Mayoralty in helping at many of the events that have taken place in front and behind the scenes. Their hard works given that’s been so much appreciated by Sue and I. Our charities would never have had the possibility to receive so much money without the dedication and work that was done by so many.

I’d like to thank people but in no particular order, everybody deserves the highest honour that I can possibly thank them for, they really do work very well for us. I will start with our secretary Sue Carroll. Thank you to Sue and Sonja for all their hard work. Also to Barbara Margaret, and Margaret, a special thanks to Carol Jackson who unfortunately can’t be here this evening. She absolutely works her socks off for the Mayoralty, I’m really, really impressed by the amount of work that she does.

We’ve also been greatly helped, especially with our charities by all those people and as I said members of the group. I’ve got to say George Davies thanks very much, George who we all mentioned has been absolutely wonderful in helping the Mayoralty in many ways this year. A personal thanks from Sue and I to you. Thank you very much George.

I’d also like to thank Beth Glover who’s been my chaplain this year and this is where I pause because the one thing I would like to do is to thank our cadet of the year and who started as Sergeant Charlotte Steel. I’m pleased to say is now the rank of what?

Flight Sergeant.

Yes, absolutely. She’s now Flight Sergeant Steel. Sue and I were really impressed by the courtesy you gave us and the hard work that you put in supporting us through our year. So can I ask you to come up and receive an award for it?

Thank you very much. I think she’s going to take a picture of us both.

Mayor of Wirral Cllr Dave Mitchell awards the Cadet of the Year Award (2014)
Mayor of Wirral Cllr Dave Mitchell awards the Cadet of the Year Award (2014)

Excellent, thank you very much, if you could go and sit down. Thank you.

Sue and I started our mayoralty on a really top-notch event. We were very fortunate to start our mayoralty the year, the weekend of the commemoration of the Battle of the Atlantic. It was an absolutely wonderful occasion, a beautiful weekend. I’m very proud to say that the sponsor of that weekend was one of our major companies Cammell Lairds and a great big thank you to them. It really was a wonderful event. I can’t go on and say how many things that we’ve done, I’ve already said we’ve done over five hundred. It’s been absolutely wonderful.

Of those five hundred, I can say I only asked for three. That was to visit my old school and a friend of mine and to visit two of our charities that we’ve supported this year. The rest, the general public and the good people of the Wirral support the mayoralty and they asked the Mayor to be over from the Mayor’s department and I’m really supportive and I’m thankful to those people. I can’t leave out Nick. Nick, Carl and Paul who’ve been the Mayor’s attendants throughout that year. They’ve done an absolutely wonderful job in supporting us.

I know Nick and Paul’s been here for a while, it’s a temporary part and Carl’s just come in and done it for a short while. Nick I would like to thank you for all the great work that you’ve done for Sue and I in supporting us throughout this year. We’ve been to many, many occasions, many events and like everybody when you come into a role, you just don’t know what it’s about and you need a little bit of guidance and help and Nick has been the stalwart in that in helping us throughout our year making sure we address the right people (I get that wrong sometimes) in the right manner. Dame Morgan will not forget me for calling her the Lord High Sheriff but there we are.

Yes, Nick’s guidance it goes beyond just the normal thing of taking us to events and getting us there at the right time, it’s the ability to move us in the right direction, to talk to the people that need to be spoken to and it’s also the guidance in taking us away from the people that actually you don’t need to talk to and finally Steve and Les you’ll find that out when your year comes. There are some very lovely people on the Wirral peninsula who once they get the ear of the Mayor will not stop talking so that’s beneficial in both ways.

So Sue and I would like to thank you Nick, you really are the stalwart in what you’ve done for us. So much so in the conversation with the Lord Lieutenant Dame Lorna Muirhead only a few weeks back she remarked on, “How would you manage without him?” and that’s it. “I’m sure you’ll find somebody to replace him but for the time being there’s no one as good as you.” So Nick thank you very much.

I’d also like as I said last but not least as I mention in my column every week in the newspaper, I always say about the people that we meet, the wonderful things that we’ve done but the one thing that’s really stood out for Sue and I this year is the amount of work that’s done by so many young people on the Wirral and the press is not very good. There are all sorts of news story, it never gives a good news story and we’ve been absolutely astounded in the main by the amount of work that’s been done by the young people on this peninsula.

Thousands and thousands of pounds have been raised by different groups each year and without any need for publicity in any way. They just get on and do the job. We were really amazed and we are absolutely delighted and we believe the peninsula is in safe hands with all those wonderful young people that we’ve got on our peninsula.

I’ve mentioned the mayoralty and the one thing that it is, is once you get into the role of being the Mayor, you realise how important it is to our communities and our communities really do love the Mayor. I’m repeating myself and I know I’ve already said it, five hundred plus engagements where our communities want the Mayoralty to be involved. I hope it is not diminished in any way in future years.

I would like to say in passing that I wish my predecessor, oh no the incoming Mayor and Mayoress. My predecessor Gerry I’m delighted to see you here. At the end of your Mayoral year you weren’t too well health wise but I’m delighted to see how well you are at the moment, I’m really delighted to see you here, but no the incoming Mayor and Mayoress Steve and Elaine I wish you all the joy and success. I know you will enjoy it as much as Sue and I have done. Ladies and gentlemen thank you very much.

Now I’ll turn the page and actually get on to it. The first business is the election of the Civic Mayor. May I have the nominations for the office of Civic Mayor for the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral?

Continues at How did Councillor Foulkes get the nickname ‘Mad Max’? & ‘Infamy! Infamy! They’ve all got it in for me!’.
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Council Meeting (Wirral Council) (11th February 2013) Kate Wood made Honorary Alderman, Debates on Taxes and Spending

A report on the Council meetings (Wirral Council) of 11th February 2013 along with video footage of the latter. The first was an extraordinary meeting to confer the title of Honorary Alderman on Kate Wood. The second was a regular meeting with motions on local government funding, health, housing, elections, benefits, Area Forums, tax credits, payday loans, public sector contracts and Universal Credit.

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Above is the first 2 1/4 hours of the Wirral Councill meeting of 11th February 2013.

Unfortunately the day this finally uploaded, someone rang up my ISP pretending to be the bill payer (my wife) and cancelled the ADSL line (which took a week to set up with another provider).

Prior to the main meeting there was a short (well by Council standards fifteen minutes is short) Extraordinary Meeting to make Kate Wood an Honorary Alderman. As a slight legal footnote for the last two and a half years Wirral Council could also confer the title of Honorary Alderwomen as the last Labour government changed the legislation in 2010. The papers and minutes for that meeting can be found on Wirral Council’s website.

The main meeting that night was much longer.

The first controversial point (at least if you’re a Conservative councillor) was the recommendation from Cabinet for approval by Council that Cllr Steve Foulkes be the Deputy Mayor for 2013/14. However to avoid any long drawn out debate on the merits of Cllr Foulkes as Deputy Mayor, the matter was simply noted on the basis that it’ll be decided at the Annual Council meeting of the 13th May 2013.

As usual only three notices of motion were debated, the first being Labour’s entitled Unfair Cuts in Local Government Funding, along with a Lib Dem amendment.

The second notice was a Conservative motion entitled Council Tax Referendum along with a Labour amendment and Lib Dem amendment.

Around this point I ran out of battery as the meeting was by now two and a quarter hours long.

The last notice of motion debated was a Lib Dem motion entitled Council Finances along with a Labour amendment.

A few of the motions not debated were unanimously agreed (well unanimous except for the abstention of the Mayor) (Vascular Services Review (about moving vascular services from Arrowe Park to the Countess of Chester), “Health Homes” and the Case for Selective Licensing of the Private Rented Sector and Construction Industry Blacklists).

For the rest of the motions and objections there were splits in the vote among party political lines. The first was “Attack on Democracy in Wirral” – a Conservative motion against the move to four yearly elections from 2015/6, the second was “The Empty Rhetoric of Localism” – a Labour motion about Council Tax Benefit, Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants, the third a Conservative objection against abolishing Area Forums and calling for consultation, the fourth a Lib Dem objection to abolishing Area Forums calling for it to be referred to a group of councillors to make recommendations on, the fifth a Labour motion entitled “Cuts to Tax Credits” (as well as a Conservative amendment and Lib Dem amendment), the sixth a Labour motion on “Payday Loans” (as well as a Conservative amendment and Lib Dem amendment), the seventh a Lib Dem motion on “Tax Avoidance and Public Sector Contracts” (as well as a Labour amendment) and the eighth a Lib Dem motion on “Universal Credit” as well as a Labour amendment.

The meeting finished with a number of changes agreed to committee places, after the recent by elections and resignation.

Merseyside Police Authority 20/2/12 12/13 Budget Meeting Pt 2 – Police Authority agree to raise Council Tax police precept by 3% and refuse Council Tax Freeze Grant

The members of the Merseyside Police Authority met to decide on the 2012/2013 Budget after their meeting last Thursday had been adjourned.

There were two options to decide between. The first option was whether to accept a one-off Council Tax Freeze grant for 2012/2013 which equated to what they would have gained from a 3 percent rise in the police precept on the Council Tax bills for Merseyside residents. The second option was to reject the Council Tax Freeze grant and increase the Council Tax precept by 3 percent for Merseyside residents.

Neither option made any difference to the 2012/2013 budget, but did to budgets from 2013/2014 onwards.

The Chair welcomed people to the reconvened meeting. He said they wouldn’t go through the whole report again. He asked for a proposal.

It was proposed to reject the Council Tax Freeze grant for 2012/2013 and increase the Merseyside Council Tax police precept by 3 percent compared to its 2011/2012 level.

It was moved as an amendment to accept the Council Tax freeze grant for 2012/2013 and not increase the Merseyside Council Tax police precept for 2012/2013 compared to its 2011/2012 level.

A councillor spoke for the amendment and against the motion. Cllr Kate Wood spoke for the amendment and against the motion. The Chair commented that the Merseyside Police Authority sets the precept independently of the Merseyside local authorities who collected the Council Tax on their behalf.

Janet referred to a story on the BBC website. She had asked for a copy of the press release and felt the BBC had mixed it up as they had used a figure of £2 million instead of £1.865 million. She also didn’t understand the BBC article suggested there would be a loss of forty officers, which made out there would be a deficit when the revenue Budget for 2012/2013 was neutral between the two options.

She had an issue with the survey using survey monkey that the Police Authority had done. She said it was biased as option 1 was for putting up the Council Tax precept and that people could vote in it as many times as they liked, she herself had voted three times. She said although the proposed increase was small,would some residents would have to cut their heating bill to afford the increased Council Tax.

The Chair asked the Chief Executive to clarify.

The Chief Executive referred people to table 14 on page 45. He pointed out the issue was with the 2013/2014 Budget, not 2012/2013. He explained that the issue was never 2012/2013. The issue was what happened after 2012/2013 to the one year Council Tax Freeze grant.

He continued by pointing out in 2013/2014 if the Council Tax Freeze grant was accepted, then it led to a £2 million gap, as the grant would be dropped out of the Budget for 2013/2014. This meant the Council Tax base for 2013/2014 would be reduced [compared to increasing the precept for 2012/2013] and the effect of the Council Tax Freeze Grant was close to £2 million.

Referring to the survey, Paul Johnson explained that it had been sent out to libraries and they had made it so that more that each person could vote more than once. He said they had been criticised on Thursday for reorganising a meeting so quickly, which gave little opportunity to the public of Merseyside. They had achieved some helpful information, but if Authority members thought it was not up to scratch they were at “liberty to ignore” it.

The Chair said he was not going to give a summay out unless he was asked for it. In the short period of time he only intended to introduce it if there was another stalemate. It had been raised, but it did have limitations.

An Authority Member referred to a “lot of misunderstanding”. They then referred to Liverpool City Council deciding on the Council Tax levels and the effect on them of receiving or refusing the Council Tax Freeze Grant. The Member thought the effect over five years for the Police Budget could come to Ł9 million.

The Member referred to the “poorly paid on benefits” who had faced “Housing Benefit cuts” when “nobody gave a monkeys”. He then went onto refer to Working Tax Credit cuts and Winter Fuel Allowance reductions from Ł250 to Ł150.

He was arguing that the 3% rise would not lead to greater numbers of officers on the frontline as in previous years. However it would allow injured and ill officers to be tacken off their backroom jobs and made redundant, which would lead to a longterm saving.

This could lead to [approximately] forty new officers. If they were not going to recruit now then in a couple of years there would be a big gap and experienced officers who needed to pass their skills and advice on would have left Merseyside Police.